Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems we see at Porter Dental Health Clinic. But in the past, all our team had to detect tooth decays or caries was the dental explorer, a probe-like instrument, and dental X-rays. The dental hygienist or Dr. Porter would use the explorer to probe teeth for the presence of cavities; or, they would take X-rays to detect decay between the teeth. But this process was imperfect and it could not detect “hidden” decay inside the tooth.
Nowadays, Porter Dental Health Clinic has a much more advanced type of technology called the DIAGNOdent Laser Cavity Detection System that allows us to detect and treat decay inside the teeth earlier, more accurately and reliably. By detecting tooth decay in its earlier stages, we can intervene with smaller fillings that conserve more natural, healthy tooth structure. We can also save our patients the considerable stress and worry that come with more extensive dental damage.
How Does DIAGNOdent Work?
The DIAGNOdent is a device that relies on the fact that healthy tooth structure reflects light differently than decayed tooth structure. Healthy teeth have very little to no fluorescent qualities but decaying tooth structure does.
The system uses a pen-like device to scan the teeth with harmless pulses of laser light. When the laser reaches decay beneath the surface of a tooth, the decay emits fluorescent light. The fluorescence is quantified and given a numeric value on the DIAGNOdent system’s display screen in the treatment room. The higher the reading, the greater the possibility of tooth decay. The fluorescence also produces an audible signal to notify the dentist or hygienist of a possibly compromised tooth. Then, it is up to the dentist to determine whether there is a cavity by comparing the readings to a baseline number.
This type of tool does a great job at detecting decay at the tooth surface that may normally be hidden in an X-ray, or decay that an X-ray can’t pick up on. In fact, according to the team behind DIAGNOdent, the system is over 90 percent accurate in detecting lesions not detectable with a dental explorer or X-rays.
What to Expect from DIAGNOdent
The DIAGNOdent is a portable and compact device that is unobtrusive and does not cause any pain or discomfort.
Before starting laser cavity detection, the teeth are cleaned by the hygienist. The pen-like device is waved over the chewing surfaces of each tooth. The display screen produces a numeric value and an audible beep for each tooth to let the dentist or hygienist know if there is decay present. This process repeats until the entire mouth has been scanned. It is non-invasive, safe and very reliable.
If the DIAGNOdent suggests decayed tooth structure, the dentist or hygienist can perform a visual examination to confirm or rule out decay.